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Getting Students With Autism Through High School, To College And Beyond

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Colin Ozeki, a high school student with autism, is on track to graduate this year from Millennium Brooklyn High School with an advanced diploma.

Amy Pearl/WNYC

Colin Ozeki, 16, doesn’t like to sugarcoat how autism spectrum disorder has affected his interactions with others, his emotions and his own self-confidence. He sees it as an issue to confront, something about himself to work on and improve in order to fully participate in life around him.

He appreciates the adage, “It’s a difference, not a disability.” But he disagrees with it when it comes to himself.

“I don’t think I would be at this place that I’m at right now if it weren’t for people acknowledging the idea that I had some kind of problem per se,” says Colin. “I might have just been this confused person forever, and somewhat underdeveloped.”

We know a lot more about children with autism spectrum disorders than we did just a decade ago, but nationwide students with autism are enrolling in college in relatively low numbers.

Colin, now a senior at Millennium Brooklyn High School, has been part of a program in the New York City schools aiming to change that. It’s called ASD Nest (ASD refers to students with autism spectrum disorder) and he’s been with it his entire school career.

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Education

Millions Have Dyslexia, Few Understand It

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Part 1 of our series “Unlocking Dyslexia.”

“It’s frustrating that you can’t read the simplest word in the world.”

Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

“Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. ” He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can’t sound it out.

“I don’t … I quit.” He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

Despite stumbling over the simplest words, Thomas — a fourth-grader — is a bright kid. In fact, that’s an often-misunderstood part of dyslexia: It’s not about lacking comprehension, having a low IQ or being deprived of a good education.

It’s about having a really hard time reading.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States. It touches the lives of millions of people, including me and Thomas. Just like Thomas, I spent much of my childhood sitting in a little chair across from a reading tutor.

Today, Thomas is working with his tutor in an office building in northwest Washington, D.C. The suite they’re in is an oasis of white couches and overstuffed pillows. In the waiting area, a kid is curled up sucking her thumb, and a mom reads a magazine quietly.

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